“I am a single parent. My husband abandoned my daughter and me when she was born just because she was a girl. He never looked back and doesn’t even care whether we’re dead or alive,” writes Priyanka Gupta in her petition on Change.org. About 40,000 people have joined Gupta’s fight over night, in solidarity, to help her daughter have her mother’s name on her passport instead of her father’s.
Until questioned, the system clearly has been functioning with undertones of sexism, and Gupta’s fight does not only highlight the existence of hidden patriarchy in our legal systems, but it also makes us question whether the judiciary abides by its word.
As stated by Gupta herself, the judiciary had given progressive judgements earlier but has sadly failed to influence the system itself. In May, the Delhi High Court, declared that in some cases, the mother’s name is sufficient for a child to apply for his or her passport. This judgement was affirmed because the court realised that families with single parents had increased due to “unwed mothers, sex workers, surrogate mothers, rape survivors, children abandoned by father and also children born through IVF (in vitro fertilisation) technology.”
Despite of the fact that Gupta’s family does get recognition according to the list of reasons, the passport office repeatedly insists that they must include her husband’s name on the passport. Her daughter, Garima, has also strongly opposed this by stating, “To me this petition is very important, because it’s for me only. I need my passport, it’s a necessity but I don’t want it with the name of a man who abandoned us because of my being a girl!”
This scenario is evidence to the paradoxical nature of our legislative rulings and how lax its enactment on the ground can be. Hopefully, as more people sign the petition, the Ministry of External Affairs will finally pay full attention to this mother-daughter story, which undoubtedly echoes the voice of many other families around the country.
Sign the petition to join Priyanka Gupta’s fight here
Feature image courtesy of pepperwater.in